Now that Nina Jankowicz has resigned her job as “Disinformation Governance Board” boss at the Department of Homeland Security, the liberal media have competed to paint her in the most melodramatic tones as a victim of vicious sexist harassment. Associated Press reporter Amanda Seitz — who’s supposed to be a “Fact Check Reporter” — filed a story Friday with the gaudy headline “Disinformation board’s ex-leader faced wave of online abuse.“
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nina Jankowicz, like so many millennials, was excited to share a social media post announcing her new job on Twitter late last month when she was named executive director for a new disinformation board established by the Department of Homeland Security.
But instead of well-wishes, Jankowicz’s tweet set off a torrent of sexist profanities across social media and menacing emails filled with rape or death threats that continue to follow her even after she resigned from that new job on Wednesday morning following the disastrous rollout of the program.
The AP reporter was not at all interested in the conservative argument against the DGB or Jankowicz. Newspapers and websites across America were spreading the word that the right-wingers were “silencing and terrorizing” her because she was female.
It’s a familiar scenario, not only for those who criticize Trump, but also for many other women.
In part, it’s also due to a confluence of social media, a hyperpolarized world and the crush of online harassment, stalking and abuse that has driven dozens of women around the globe from powerful positions. The speed and unchecked virulence of the attacks show another way that social media can serve as an accelerant to sowing discord.
“This type of silencing and terrorizing are global, sadly, and unsurprising,” said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Virginia who studies online privacy and hate crimes. “It is a playbook. And it’s downright scary.”
Citron’s own biography touts from 2014 to 2016, she served as an adviser to then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris as a member of her task force to combat “cyber exploitation and violence against women.” She also touts more than 25 interviews on NPR and an appearance on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.
Seitz also played up the Torrent of Sexual Abuse angle by citing a United Nations report:
Female politicians, regardless of political affiliation, are subjected to 10 times more abusive messages on Twitter, including hate speech that sometimes suggested the women kill themselves. The online abuse, the U.N. concluded in its report, prevents democracies from being equally representative.
For her part, Jankowicz said Wednesday she won’t be “silenced” by the online harassment and it was not the final provocation that led to her resignation.
But it had a similar effect.
Seitz the “Fact Check Reporter” could barely touch the conservative argument that Jankowicz was highly partisan and like many Democrats, claimed the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation. No, the smearing was the point:
Conservative pundits, Twitter users and TV show hosts delivered a relentless campaign full of sexist attacks and misleading statements against Jankowicz. A Fox News personality questioned whether Jankowicz should have agreed to lead the board while pregnant. One far-right extremist called her “mentally ill” and a “nasty … Jew,” on his podcast; Jankowicz is not Jewish.
Is it any wonder that conservatives sneer at AP’s claim to be a “fact-based” news outlet?